March 2014 Bad Faith Cases: Once Jury Found Insureds Committed Insurance Fraud, It Could Not Find In Favor Of Those Same Insureds On Bad Faith Claims Against That Insurer (Philadelphia Federal)

In Zenith Insurance Co. v. Wells Fargo Ins. Services of PA, Inc., even though the insureds lost before a jury on the issue of insurance fraud, they still pursued post-verdict motions that the jury erred in failing to find bad faith against the carrier.  The court stated: “At trial, the jury was instructed on the elements of insurance bad faith. The verdict form asked the jury to answer the special interrogatories on the issue of bad faith only if it found that [the insureds] were not liable to [the insurer] for insurance fraud. As the jury found them both liable for insurance fraud, it did not reach the bad faith counterclaim. Under these circumstances, the jury could not possibly have found that [the insurer] had acted in bad faith toward its insureds. Such a finding against [the insurer] would have resulted in a clearly inconsistent verdict. Accordingly, the motion of [the insureds] for judgment as a matter of law and/or a new trial on their bad faith claim against [the insurer] will be denied.”

Date of Decision:  January 7, 2014

Zenith Insurance Co. v. Wells Fargo Ins. Services of PA, Inc., CIVIL ACTION NO. 10-5433, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1295 (E.D. Pa. January 7, 2014) (Bartle, III, J.)